Fury as tri­bunal sides with lawyer’s racist abusers

● Mark Lewis fined for his ‘of­fen­sive’ re­sponse to three-year hate cam­paign against him that in­cluded death threats

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

A DE­CI­SION by the Solic­i­tors Dis­ci­plinary Tri­bunal to fine lead­ing lawyer Mark Lewis for send­ing a small num­ber of “of­fen­sive” mes­sages in re­sponse to a three­year hate cam­paign against him has been op­posed by MPs and fel­low lawyers, and prompted out­rage from mem­bers of the pub­lic.

Mr Lewis, who has worked with UK Lawyers for Is­rael and is best known for rep­re­sent­ing phone hack­ing vic­tims, was sub­jected to “thou­sands” of an­tisemitic mes­sages from neo-Nazis.

Some of the mes­sages in­cluded death threats and Mr Lewis had to in­crease his per­sonal se­cu­rity as a re­sult, the tri­bunal heard.

Trolls also mocked Mr Lewis’s mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and su­per­im­posed an image of his face on pho­to­graphs of a cre­ma­to­rium at Auschwitz.

His at­tack­ers in­cluded Ali­son Ch­abloz, who re­ceived a two-year sus­pended sen­tence in Au­gust after be­ing con­victed of post­ing “grossly of­fen­sive” songs mock­ing Jews who died in the Shoah.

De­spite this back­ground, the tri­bunal found that Mr Lewis’s re­sponse — a small num­ber of “of­fen­sive and pro­fane” mes­sages posted on Twit­ter and Face­book, in­clud­ing one in which he “‘wished death” on some of those who were at­tack­ing him — mer­ited pun­ish­ment, and he was fined £2,500 and or­dered to pay £10,000 in costs.

A Just Giv­ing cam­paign set up on Mon­day to raise £12,500 to help Mr Lewis pay the penalty and le­gal costs had al­ready raised over £10,000 by Wed­nes­day night.

Or­gan­is­ers of the cam­paign wrote: “Mark Lewis stood up to anti-

semites and as a re­sult faced a pro­fes­sional dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

“Any­one who re­gards them­selves as an anti-racist should be ap­palled by this hear­ing and ver­dict. The vic­tim has be­come the per­pe­tra­tor. Mark Lewis is a hero who has stood up for all of us. Surely the least we can do is en­sure that he does not suf­fer fi­nan­cially.”

Ti­mothy Ken­dall, who rep­re­sented Mr Lewis, told the panel that more than one of his abusers had been con­victed for their abuse and ar­gued that his client had only re­sponded to a small amount of the abuse on so­cial me­dia be­tween 2015 and 2016.

Mr Lewis said the death-wish mes­sage he sent was in re­sponse to a col­lec­tion of about “10 tweets” that in­cluded “sim­i­lar” abuse.

At the tri­bunal, Mr Ken­dal presented a let­ter in sup­port of Mr Lewis that had been signed by eight MPs and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in­clud­ing Lu­ciana Berger, Lord Pan­nick QC, Baroness Deech and Ruth Smeeth. Other sig­na­to­ries of the let­ter were Alex So­bel, Tom Brake, An­drew Percy and Chris Bryant.

Mr Lewis told the JC that the Solic­i­tors Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity, which charged him, “was faced with a choice be­tween Holo­caust deny­ing neo-Nazis and a Jewish lawyer.

“It chose to side with the neo-Nazis. It is on the wrong side of his­tory. It is the Holo­caust re­vi­sion­ists who are cel­e­brat­ing the ver­dict. That tells you all that you need to know,” he said.

“I am so grate­ful for the sup­port that I have re­ceived from the Jewish and le­gal com­mu­ni­ties both in terms of at­ten­dance at the tri­bunal and fi­nan­cially.” He added he was due to make aliyah on De­cem­ber 5, say­ing: “I am so pleased that there is a home­land to go to.”

In its judg­ment, the SRA said it “does not in any way sup­port or con­done the of­fen­sive an­tisemitic mes­sages to which the re­spon­dent claims that he was re­spond­ing in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions that he sent”.

PHOTO: PA

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